Pope Francis is reported to have told a gay man that ‘God made you that way and loves you as you are’.
The statement, which the Vatican has not confirmed, is seen as moving the Pontiff’s acceptance of homosexuality to a new level.
Francis was speaking to Juan Carlos Cruz, a victim of sex abuse within the Catholic church in Chile.
Juan had a private meeting with the Pope to discuss his ordeal as the church appears to be finally recognising cover-ups of sex attacks behind the closed doors of religion.
Juan is now a communications expert working in Philadelphia. He is quoted as saying: “The Pope said to me, the first thing I want to do is apologise for what happened to you and apologise in the name of the Pope, and in the name of the universal church’.
“It was very emotional … I was a bit choked up and he just let me be silent or cry even … he would just sit there with me and listen.”
Juan is also quoted as saying: “He said, I don’t care about you being gay. God made you that way and loves you as you are and I don’t mind. The Pope loves you as you are, you have to be happy with who you are.’ ”
However, the Vatican has declined to confirm or deny Francis’ comments, saying: “We don’t normally comment on the Pope’s private conversations.”
The Pope’s remarks went far beyond his previous statements on homosexuality after hearing that Juan Carlos Cruz was a victim of Chile’s most notorious priest, Fernando Karadima.
Chilean prosecutors investigated Karadima, but dropped the charges because the statute of limitations had expired. But the judge handling the case reportedly said that it did not collapse for lack of proof.